Tend the Soul
I was searching available domain names to use for a website on the taboo topic of death when I began thinking about Soul,
which, mind you, is a tough thing to do. Do any of us really understand what our Soul is? Is it consciousness? At this point, for me, it's an ideal, an aspect of myself that is divine and that I gradually come to know and uncover as I live with it as my focus. I was shocked and pleased to find out 'soul' was a high-demand word for domains. My first idea that woke me up in the night was "soul over matter". Rather than 'mind over matter'. Because although our minds are powerful, I see soul as a heavyweight champion who can kick mind's *@# every time! Well, when we learn to let it. But that was taken. A book already written by that name and a show or symposium in New York already existed.
So next mid-rest awakening idea was "soul survivor", spelled that way instead of 'sole', because I also view soul as the aspect of ourselves that lives on as the body, mind & ego are let go of. Taken!
Then "soul surrender". Already owned and used by a web designer in Switzerland.
The search was real.
I silently asked for help. I don't necessarily pray. I do however, imagine soul, my higher self, and the aspect of myself that my mind and ego attempt to trump unless I ask for its help out of recognition of its more subtle, silent, and powerful gifts.
I took a look at the stack of books I keep on my desk on the topic of death and dying. One blurb on the back of one book used the phrase "tend to terminally ill patients." And bam! "tend the soul" was born. Because of it's availability? Partially. But it also happened to be accurate about what it is I see death doulas, end-of-life midwives (sometimes referred to as 'soul midwives') and hospice workers doing. Tending the soul. Although nurses and nurses' assistants have clinical, physical tasks, as the body slows to a stop, the life within is what is the focus. A body and a mind must let go, family members and friends must let go of the person doing the dying, and the soul is eventually liberated, untethered and unencumbered by its ailing encasement. If it's that simple.
There's another side to grief and sorrow - and that is joy, and an invitation to contemplate this soul. It takes imagination when someone you love is living in a body that is deteriorating before your own eyes. It takes a bigger picture view to remember this when, for example, your mom is grimacing in pain as you're doing your best to gently lift her listless, eighty pound bag of bones up off the bed and onto a bedside toilet. It takes a whole lot of creativity to open up to another possibility of another reality for this person you love when you were not, are not, and may not ever be ready to traverse your life without them in it.
But the joy I speak of cannot be felt unless I speak pretty candidly about the tragedy of the loss. Because the elation, literally a feeling of wanting to dance as my mom finally took her last breath would never have existed without the sting, the slow burn, and the acute feelings of being hit in the gut experienced as she died. I'm discussing the waking my dad with a complete satisfaction, contentment, wonder and awe to tell him "She did it!" I'm attempting to describe the calm felt in the home when someone is about to go and the desire felt to be nowhere but next to this almost liberated Soul. And I'm attempting to write about the ultimate paradox of complete despair juxtaposed by the utmost ecstasy of surrendering to - what is.